Archive for June 2009
As part of the Big Screen EPG (for Windows 7) product offering – a core important component (which hasn’t yet been announced/released) - is the ‘by Remote’ client application. This product aims to provide some of the functionality previously provided by Webguide (currently available only for Vista Media Center) – with a focus on the PVR side of things. (such as browsing/searching the EPG and managing scheduled recordings).
‘Big Screen EPG – by Remote’ (codename) is designed to target both 2 ‘ and 1 “ clients – by providing a Silverlight 2 client for the desktop (which is hence usable on most versions of Windows and Mac o/s) – an XHTML expierience (Mobile site) with reduced functionality – as well as an iPhone optimized HTML site.
The ‘server’ product is currently deployed as a single .exe file (only 400k in size) – which contains it’s own inbuilt Web Server (so no need to install IIS or Casini) – and all required content (such as the Silverlight .xap) and host pages/images are delivered right out of this single .exe as well (and are embedded as resources). In a simple configuration – users can then expose the required ports via their firewall – so this client can be accessed from remote locations (over the internet) – or via the local network.
Please Note : Currently, this product is only designed to view EPG Data imported to Windows Media Center 7 by Big Screen EPG – and will not allow access to EPG data provided by Microsoft (or EIT) providers.
‘by Remote’ Silverlight 2 Client
While the UI (and product) are still a work in progress – some screenshots of an early version of the Silverlight 2 App are pictured below (click for full sized images) –
loading page EPG Browsing
popup program info view upcoming recording
series browser series keyword searching
The client app is very small/lightweight (and designed to deal with slow upload speeds from your internet connection) – and all requests/responses are compressed (and encrypted) between server and client. Typical download sizes while using application (which is data being served up from your machine) – may be 20-50k for a day’s worth of raw EPG data (when browsing EPG – you can view an entire day without reloading more data) – smaller then a lot of image files you’d download.
A nice feature on this product (which I believe is different that a lot of the other remote recording clients on Vista) – is that when you make scheduled recordings it does ‘proper’ series + program recording (if applicable) – rather than just doing ‘Keyword’ recordings (which can not always work as expected). This is made possible by the fact that you’re browsing metadata from your own machine – rather than from some shared server/epg store.
‘by Remote’ iPhone Web App
The mobile experience for by Remote will be a subset of important functions found in the Silverlight app (as it’s not practical to browse entire epg’s on a small device).
A couple of (sorry- blurry) screenshots are below :
The XHTML version (targeted for Windows Mobile, Blackberry etc) will also provide a similar set of reduced functionality.
‘by Remote’ Server / 7MC Integration
The server for this (as mentioned above) contains it’s own built in web-server – and is designed to be accessed wherever you have internet or network access to your Windows Media Center 7 machine. (and doesn’t require Live Mesh, WHS or any other remote/connection framework to get to your machine). At the moment the prototype is a windows .exe – but this will be converted over to be a windows service (so noone needs to be logged into your local machine).
The server also has the ability to act as a proxy to other Media Center Servers – so rather than expose every 7MC machine in your house to the internet (and remember a bunch of ports/addresses) – you can just access a single server – which in turn will relay (and get response from) the other media center machines that are pre-configured (and provide a friendly access page with a directory of configured machines).
Down the track – I’m also considering developing a WHS addin version of this product (which would then act purely as a ‘proxy’ server) – but am not convinced yet about whether there’s enough users out there to justify it.
- - - - - –
The ‘by Remote’ client will be made available over next couple of months – and will be offered as part of the Big Screen EPG product.
Also – depending on how soon Silverlight 3 is released – an ‘out of browser’ (standalone desktop app rather than inside browser) version of this will also be on offer.
This past weekend – v0.4 of Big Screen EPG (a 3rd party EPG Importer for Windows 7) was launched to beta testers.
As per previous post – the beta program for this product is now public – so you can signup yourself (via your bigscreenglobal.com account) and get started straight away.
This version is a significant enhancement upon previous releases – some highlights including :
- .MSI Setup Program (with Program Menu/Icons etc for easy setup/configuration – no more messing around with command prompts and windows explorer)
- Online Registration Wizard – with new expiry date to 1-Sep-09. (v0.3 will expire 1/Jul)
- Substantially improved (and rewritten) XMLTV Processing Engine – supports lots of new metadata.
- New processing engine now supports huge EPG feeds (such as those used by US and Canadian users containing 200,000+ programs) – whilst keeping a low memory/cpu footprint.
- Substantially Enhanced UI with new lots of new features/smarts.
- Media Center ‘Reset Tool’ Wizard – which clears/resets the Media Center Configuration DB (taking you back to ‘first run’ state in Media Center)
- Scheduled Tasks Manager – for creating/automating BSE Processing Tasks via Windows Task Scheduler
v0.4 also now utilizes Serial Numbers/Registration as per other Big Screen products (rather than just having a hardcoded expiry date in the executable) – and introduces part of the new licensing model which will be available on the final version of Big Screen EPG.
Determined via your Serial Number – Big Screen EPG will run in one of 4 modes (nb: Not yet finalized) –
- Trial Version - (Currently hardcoded to expire on Sep-1 – but will likely be extended). In future this trial period will be 30-90 days from activation (TBD) – and will allow full usage of Big Screen EPG product (without limitations). Once your Trial has expired – you will now be able to continue using the product in a limited ‘free’ mode – or upgrade to a paid version.
- *FREE* / ‘Lite’ Version – as indicated – you will be able to use Big Screen EPG for free forever (once trial has expired) – but it will run with ‘reduced’ functionality – such as being restricted to 4 days of guide data, less ‘bling’ (no Series Artwork and other enhanced Metadata such as Actors/Credits) and other restrictions.
- ‘Standard’ Subscription – allows full usage of Big Screen EPG on 1x Media Center machine for period of subscription (will be offered in 6 month, 1 year and 2 year renewable periods). Pricing is TBD. Additional Services such as Remote Recording Management (and other goodies) will also be rolled out soon.
- ‘Pro’ Subscription – Same features as Standard Versions – but can be run on multiple Media Center machines inside a single residence. (for those hardcore users who have several HTPC’s around the house). Pricing is TBD.
Note that the Paid Subscription services will be introduced/available sometime after Windows 7 Final Version comes out and the current ‘v1’ Big Screen EPG product is finalized. The Trial Version (and automatic fallback to Free mode once trial expires) is available in the current public v0.4 beta.
Some Screenshots are below ….
New UI – now with a horizontal tab layout (which is now available via the Start Menu and via Desktop Shortcut). This new layout makes provides a lot more screen realestate
Scheduled Task Manager - automates the creation/management of the scheduled task for processing new EPG data.
Media Center ‘Reset’ Wizard – runs a Media Center Database Reset – with lots of friendly warnings.
Enhanced ‘Add Dummy Channel’ UI – adds default program information for Channels which don’t have EPG Data. The updated version now downloads a list of ‘known’ preset stations from bigscreenglobal.com (currently only Australian DVB-T channels appear in this list).
More Advanced Options – such as the ‘Language Settings’ tab which allows you to specify what your preferred languages are (for XMLTV feeds which has metadata for multiple languages).
Activation/Reverify Wizard – similar to that featured on the Big Screen products for Media Center – this will activate and ‘reverify’ your serial number with the online server (and latest expiry date/registration details can be set without reinstallation).